Engaging your cat in appropriate play can help alleviate a myriad of cat behavior issues such as play aggression, aggression between cats, and other common cat problems. Appropriate play can reduce stress, build your cat's confidence, and help foster a good relationship with your cat. Follow our rules to ensure fun play sessions between you and your cat.
1. Invest in the right toys. Look for toys like feather dancers and wand toys. These toys create distance between your hands and cat, and they replicate the movements of prey. Pick a variety to see what ones your cat prefers.
2. Figure out your cat's play schedule. Pick times where you cat is most active or before a meal time. Create a daily play schedule so your cat can have a predictable outlet for their energy.
3. Simulate the motions of the "prey". When playing with your cat's toys, switch between moving the toy fast and slow, peeking in and out from behind something, and moving the toy away from your cat.
4. Keep play sessions short and sweet. If you notice your cat's behavior getting too excited (biting or clawing hands), take short breaks between play. At the end of your play session with your cat, wind down play time rather than ending abruptly.
5. Don't wrestle with your cat or use glove toys. We don't want to associate play with your hands. Roughhousing can lead to over-arousal, where your cat begins scratching and biting.
6. Use laser toys appropriately. Laser toys can get your cat to move around and get exercise but can be frustrating since your cat will never catch their "prey." When you play with a laser toy, end the play session with a small amount of wet food or treats so your cat has something tangible to catch.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant